This was after my 1999 Trip to the Bernese Oberland where my climbing buddy John Lee bailed on me at the last minute as he and his wife Maria were not getting on so well – he bails on me just after he and I sent his family off to a flight to London, packed up our car (after 1 week in Chamonix already) and we’re off to Switzerland. Needless to say, I am there completely alone and he says – “here buddy, take the car, I’ll pay for it – I better salvage my marriage” as he ran off with his pack to a British Air flight to London – I had a long lonely drive ahead of me. This is rather typical of our friendship and climbing relationship. Last-minute, unplanned changes. Note that this was less than two weeks after my summit of Mount Fuji in Japan, where I suffered 2nd-degree sunburns after taking a nap on the slopes and not covering my legs requiring two days of hospitalization and loss of my climbing fitness.
Post trip notes…..
From John Lee:
I do not know whether to laugh or cry after reading this. This sounds like something you are glad that you did, but never again. I still wish I would have gone. In talking to Pat Littlejohn (ed – Leader of The International School of Mountaineering), this was his description of the itinerary.
Day 1- two hour hike up to the hut
Day 2- Climb the Monch-“easy climb, 3 hour up, warm up for the rest of the week.” THAT IS VERBATUM
Day 3- A Jungfrau- A little harder
Day 4-6 Attempt the Eiger.
Oh well, now I am very fired up for climbing some more. You name the time or the place. Maria is now willing to give it a try. Lets plan something this fall and winter. How are the naked Sushi bars in Tokyo? I am sending the good pictures of you to your house. In addition, I also have some of your biners. I made it back to London in 10 hours! I averaged about 90. So that was fun.
Should we plan two weeks in the future for this type of event? I know it is a lot of time, but it might be a better overall use of our time.
Mark D. Hadland, Seattle
07/09/99 17:45 PDT
To: John A. Lee@Andersen Consulting
Subject: Re: buddy
I love you and hope all is well. The trip was great, tough as hell, but great. We had some old friends there, Mark Charleton from our first class was my dedicated guide – I say dedicated as I was in the worst shape in the group and the guides figured that he had better look out only for me, (all others had just completed the Technical Skills course and were adjusted to climbing and altitude, so I felt a definite disadvantage, but the guides and group were great. Another AC guy from London was there – Russel Smythe – working at SAP. Good guy, you should look him up.) Victor (ed – previous guide) was there and Kathy Murphy (ed – previous guide) was there only in Leysan taking others on a trek in the Alps. I barely slept or ate in 5 days, so now I am really thin and much more fit.
The first day up to the hut was hell. Over 5 hours and a mix of steep hiking and climbing. This killed me and the following day I aborted the summit attempt of the Monch as the route selected was the most difficult and was over 10 hours long (this is the NW Nollin spur route in the Goedeke Book) , culminating in a 4 pitch 65-degree ice climb which I was not physically ready for. The trip down was long and I actually reached the other hut at the same time as the rest of the climbers. The upside was that I took the Jungfraujoch train through the Eiger and Monch and onwards to the Monch hut.
Day 2 was poor weather and a day of rest for all.
Day 3, I was feeling better and Mark and I summitted the Jungfrau (young virgin – appropriate for my first 4000m peak).
Day 4 – The next day Thursday I was too tired and not well-rested, the weather was poor and I bailed early on an attempt up the easy route on the Eiger, as I was having some problems with altitude and fatigue from lack of sleep – god I was tired the whole time. The entire group left the mountain as the weather was getting worse and there would be no further climbing.
Overall it was great to be in the mountains – beautiful and get more experience, especially on the Jungfrau. I feel much more confidant, however really want to get into better shape. Had a great time with Mark, just the two of us and he is actually the guy who found that little hotel in Italy in Cogne – he would be a great guy to hire for ice climbing as he is really easy going and one of the overall strongest climbers I have ever seen – loves Scotch – in fact he has taken up sea kayaking, often in the islands of Islay.